Home / Blogs

Go Daddy Sues VeriSign Over Site Finder

Go Daddy Software, Inc. has filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Arizona against VeriSign Inc., seeking a temporary restraining order against VeriSign’s new Site Finder service, a paid-advertising page VeriSign has established on the Internet to which the traffic associated with mistyped, and other, domain names will be directed.

Go Daddy’s lawsuit claims that VeriSign is misusing its position as the .com and .net domain registry to gain an unfair competitive advantage by intercepting (and profiting from) internet traffic resulting from the scores of invalid domain names that are typed into users’ browsers on a daily basis.

Previously, when an Internet user mistyped a domain name, the browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Netscape) would generate an informational page advising that the address didn’t have a website associated with it and suggest alternatives. The user had the option of turning this function off. Now, when a user types an invalid .com or .net address, they will instead be directed to a paid-advertising page supplied by VeriSign.

“VeriSign has hijacked this entire process,” said Bob Parsons, president of Go Daddy. “When the user is sent to VeriSign’s advertising page, VeriSign gets paid by the advertiser when the user clicks a link to get off the page—to the tune of $150 million annually, as estimated by VeriSign.”

According to Parsons, in many cases VeriSign’s Site Finder service also hijacks traffic from domain names that do exist. For example, when a registrar is notified of a domain name dispute, quite often the registrar is required to deactivate that domain name. The intention in doing this is that the name doesn’t resolve to anything until the dispute is settled. Now anyone typing the disputed name into their browser will receive VeriSign’s advertising.

There are also other damaging implications to VeriSign’s Site Finder service, Parsons continues, including the way advertising is provided to users who mistype domain names. VeriSign’s service looks at the name the user mistyped, then guesses which name the user intended to type, or what the user may be interested in. Site Finder then suggests alternatives. Thus a user who intended to go to a website selling, for example, “hats,” might receive suggestions to go to competitive sites that also sell “hats.” To prevent this hijacking of their customers, website owners will be forced to register every misspelled variation of their domain name. And it is VeriSign who directly benefits from all these additional forced registrations, because VeriSign operates the registry from which the names must be purchased.

“It’s important to understand,” says Parsons, “that VeriSign’s charter to act as the .com and .net registry was never intended to let them manipulate the domain name routing system for their own profit. This misuse certainly violates the fiduciary responsibility placed upon VeriSign by Congress to manage the .com and .net registries for the public good. Site Finder is being introduced by VeriSign solely for VeriSign’s own profit without regard for the hardships it places upon others. Site Finder will set a dangerous precedent if it is not stopped.”

Go Daddy and many other registrars are also currently at odds with VeriSign over VeriSign’s new “Wait Listing Service” (WLS) VeriSign intends to launch in late October. The Domain Justice Coalition, of which Go Daddy is a member, has a lawsuit pending against ICANN intended to force ICANN to prevent VeriSign from offering this service. Go Daddy believes that WLS, if allowed to happen, will result in significantly higher consumer prices, and will destroy the existing market operated by many registrars around back ordering domain names.

ICANN accredited GoDaddy.com is the No. 1 registrar of net new domains and provider of complementary software products and services. Other companies within The Go Daddy Group, Inc. family include Starfield Technologies, Inc., developer of software systems and services; Wild West Domains, Inc., ICANN accredited reseller provider; and Domains By Proxy, a private registration service. GoDaddy.com, together with its sister companies, enables individuals and businesses to acquire, create and safeguard their unique identities and brands on the Internet.

By CircleID Reporter

CircleID’s internal staff reporting on news tips and developing stories. Do you have information the professional Internet community should be aware of? Contact us.

Visit Page

Filed Under


George Kirikos  –  Sep 22, 2003 8:43 PM

I’m pleased to see that the registrars are growing cajones, and not putting up with the Verisign abuse. They’re setting the example for what ICANN should be doing.

I find it very interesting that the Intellectual Property Constituency of the GNSO has been conspicuously silent over the entire issue. Normally, they’d be one of the most vocal groups against typosquatting, in order to protect the interests of trademark holders. Given this odd behaviour, I’m speculating that some of the lawyers in that constituency must be pondering similar lawsuits, and don’t want to say anything in public lest it jeopardize possible litigation on behalf of their clients.

FlashRiver  –  Mar 7, 2005 7:20 PM

Wow, Go Daddy!
Well, as a register of several domain names, I am wondering if the customer is going to get anything out this lawsuit. Where is our share?
No matter what we do, we are Hi-Jacked again and again. Let Go Daddy VeriSign & ICANN show us the money.
Flash River

Comment Title:

  Notify me of follow-up comments

We encourage you to post comments and engage in discussions that advance this post through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can report it using the link at the end of each comment. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of CircleID. For more information on our comment policy, see Codes of Conduct.

CircleID Newsletter The Weekly Wrap

More and more professionals are choosing to publish critical posts on CircleID from all corners of the Internet industry. If you find it hard to keep up daily, consider subscribing to our weekly digest. We will provide you a convenient summary report once a week sent directly to your inbox. It's a quick and easy read.

I make a point of reading CircleID. There is no getting around the utility of knowing what thoughtful people are thinking and saying about our industry.

Co-designer of the TCP/IP Protocols & the Architecture of the Internet



New TLDs

Sponsored byRadix


Sponsored byDNIB.com

Brand Protection

Sponsored byCSC

Domain Names

Sponsored byVerisign


Sponsored byVerisign

Threat Intelligence

Sponsored byWhoisXML API

IPv4 Markets

Sponsored byIPv4.Global